* Los Lobos — Tin Can Trust (Shout! Factory)
The final line in “27 Spanishes,” the last song on Tin Can Trust (out now), pretty much sums up Los Lobos‘ approach to their new album: “Now they all hang out together and play guitars for kicks.” For its first Shout! Factory release, the band keeps its collection of eclectic instruments on the shelf and focuses on guitars instead. Extended solos highlight two of the best tracks, “All My Bridges Burning” and a cover of the Grateful Dead‘s “West L.A. Fadeaway.” The band really fires on all cylinders during “Do the Murray,” a lively, bluesy instrumental.
* Jim Wolf — Sleeping With Strangers (Self-released)
For his debut album, Sleeping With Strangers (due Aug. 17), Jim Wolf used about seven recording facilities, but there’s a sonic and stylistic continuity to the eight-song effort. There are echoes of Matchbox Twenty‘s Rob Thomas and Tonic‘s Emerson Hart in Wolf’s work; it’s sentimental but not saccharine schlock. “House of Cards,” which opens the album, is a standout.
* The Dandy Warhols — Best of the Capitol Years: 1995-2007 (Capitol)
If Billboard‘s modern-rock chart is to be used as a measuring stick, then The Dandy Warhols have pretty much flown under the national radar throughout their career. But the Oregon band certainly has recorded its share of songs that deserved a better fate, such as “Boys Better,” “Every Day Should Be a Holiday” and “Get Off.” Those songs and others, among them the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks entries “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth” and “Bohemian Like You,” can be found on this 15-song collection (due Aug. 24). “This Is the Tide,” a chugging rocker that could pass for Stone Temple Pilots, is a new song that’s exclusive to The Capitol Years.
* Jerry Castle — Don’t Even Ask (My World Records)
Like Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell, Nashville, Tenn.-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Jerry Castle artfully blends rock and country in a way that neither genre dominates but both are present. As a songwriter, he’s not at their level, but his second album, Don’t Even Ask (out now), shows he’s on the right track. Noteworthy songs include “Charades” and “Back Side of Down.”
— By Chris M. Junior